Three ways a disenfranchised workforce can kill a business

- Leadership - Sep 05, 2016

Earlier this year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Labour Productivity report found that UK worker outputs have fallen yet again. Employers should take these findings seriously and do all they can to improve the productivity of their workers.

Productivity is directly linked to engagement so businesses need to work hard to keep employees engaged. This doesn’t seem to be happening in many organisations but it needs to be. Results from Appirio’s recent Human Touch for Tech Talent Report highlights that a simple “thank you” can help businesses do this. The survey found that 60 percent of respondents said that when analysing a job offer, it is most important to know whether the staff feel appreciated
by the prospective manager. Just four percent were most concerned with knowing how often employees were evaluated for raises.

Business leaders can choose to tackle the productivity challenge in a timely and efficient manner or if they don’t, they effectively choose to pass off the creation of valuable work experiences and talent management to Human Resources. Those who choose the latter put the future growth of the company at risk by neglecting to accept the responsibility they have towards a key stakeholder group - their workforce.

When the needs of the workforce aren’t being met, it isn’t always obvious from reviewing traditional metrics like employee turnover. Here are three ways a disengaged workforce can damage your business:

1. Disintegrate company culture

When a workforce is disengaged, it breeds a dysfunctional culture that can result in the poisoning of an otherwise successful business.

Netflix is a famous example of a company that has been able to grow at a rapid rate due to its successful, results-driven culture. In fact, the Netflix culture story is so popular that its 124-page “Netflix Culture: Freedom and Responsibility” document has been viewed on SlideShare more than 14 million times. What makes it unique is the high level of employee engagement exhibited by its high performing workforce; the result of true enterprise-wide transparency and honesty that is supported and promoted by all employees and people managers.

The mistake most companies make is giving too much responsibility for the hiring and retention of employees to Human Resource departments. Leading companies like Netflix recognise the importance of employee engagement early on, promoting and hiring employees who demonstrate the company’s values and deliver high performance. Perhaps most importantly, these innovative companies create a work environment where actions speak louder than words, and employees always know where they stand, what is expected of them, and how they contribute to the overall good of the company.

2. Decrease customer satisfaction

Historically, companies that survive and beat competitors are the ones able to change with the times and keep providing exceptional customer experiences. Businesses that struggle to change overlook the importance of the virtuous cycle of worker experiences that directly impact customer interactions in negative or positive ways.

Today, change starts with having the right technology in place. Along with new technology, organisations should consider new working practices to meet any flexible working needs. Providing greater flexible working conditions may seem a daunting concept at first, but in truth, as long as the right tools are provided, it can prove an easy transition which leads to a host of benefits for both the worker and the business itself. For instance, tools such as Google Docs enable greater collaboration between workers across the globe. When paired with video tools such as Google Hangouts, employees are able to communicate in a much more efficient way, cutting down on the long process of administrative tasks and unnecessary email chains.

When workers aren’t given access to the tools, information, and collaborative processes they need, they become disengaged and are unable to communicate effectively with customers. And customers don’t show loyalty to companies that offer a bad, or even average, customer experience.

3. Cost the business a lot of money

Dissatisfied customers have a big impact on a business’s bottom line, which brings us to the most important reason worker engagement should be top of mind for executives. A workforce is the face of any company; workers’ behaviour and actions determine the way daily conversations with customers will go. A highly engaged and productive employee or contractor can turn a dissatisfied customer into a loyal customer. Alternately, a highly disengaged employee can turn a returning customer away for good. One allows a company to reach or exceed business goals, while the other serves as a barrier to successfully achieving these goals.

A good worker experience empowers employees to be both efficient and creative at their job - proactively bringing new ideas to the table and improving work methods and processes. An engaged workforce can be the true engine that drives operational efficiency, business growth and helps them to deliver an exceptional customer experience.

By Justin Anderson, Acting GM, Appirio 

Read the September 2016 issue of Business Review Europe magazine. 

Follow @BizReviewEurope

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